Knee injury will keep Bush from making trip to London

Posted by Herb White, The Times-Picayune October 19, 2008 4:34PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –The Saints will have to get along without Reggie Bush for a while.Bush injured his left knee returning a punt in a 30-7 loss against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium and will miss next week’s game against San Diego in London. Saints Coach Sean Payton said Bush will undergo an arthoscopic examination Monday in Birmingham by noted surgeon James Andrews and could have surgery.

“We’re going to look at his meniscus in his left knee a little bit more,” Payton said.

Bush, who was injured on the last play of the second quarter, left the locker room without speaking to reporters. He finished with 76 all-purpose yards, including 55 rushing on nine carries.

Bush’s injury was the most significant of the day, but it wasn’t the only one to hit New Orleans’ offense. Starting center Jonathan Goodwin also injured his left knee, but Payton said he would be on the flight to London.

“We’re a little more encouraged with Goodwin’s and little more discouraged with Reggie, so we’ll see where he’s at,” Payton said. “There’s a chance that he won’t make this trip and that we fly him to (Dr. James) Andrews for a scope. There’s a good chance that’s going to happen with Bush. Goodwin, we expect to make the trip.”

Bush didn’t practice last Wednsday or Thursday because of soreness and swelling in his left knee. He missed the final five games on the 2007 season after tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his that knee.

The former Heisman Trophy winner from Southern California was having his best professional season. He had returned three punts for touchdowns and going into Sunday led the NFC in receptions with 41.

Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, the Saints’ first-round pick from USC this year, tore the medial meniscus in his right knee against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 28 and had surgery to repair the damage. He was expected to miss two to four weeks of play which could mean he might be able to play against the Chargers. If Bush’s recovery timetable is similar he could be back as soon as the Nov. 9 game at Atlanta.

With Bush out of the lineup, the Saints didn’t muster much offense, failing to score in the second half after trailing 13-7 at the break. As the third quarter started, quarterback Drew Brees had an inkling New Orleans would be without its most versatile playmaker.

“We were kind of worried about him, wondering what was going on,” Brees said. “Certainly, we’ve been in positions last year and this year where guys go down and the next guy has to step up and I felt like Deuce (McAllister) did a good job today, and (Aaron) Stecker when he was in there.”

McAllister finished with nine carries for 47 yards; Stecker had two for 10.

“When (Bush) goes out of the game, it’s a big blow to what they have because he’s a big playmaker for them,” said Carolina receiver Muhsin Muhammad. “But this is a team sport and we had one of our huge playmakers go out early in the season too and we had to go on the road and beat San Diego and come home and play a tough Chicago team. I don’t think that’s something they want to say was the cause of their loss today but obviously he does pose a big threat when he’s on the field on special teams, and of course on offense, too.”

With Bush sidelined, Carolina pressed the issue defensively in the second half. The Panthers, who were tied for first in the NFC South at the start of the day with Tampa Bay, limited Brees to 21 of 39 passing for 231 yards and an interception. Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was especially active with three tackles (two for losses), one sack, quarterback hurry, pass defended, and a forced fumble.

“They made adjustments. They’re a well-coached football team with good players and they’re not going to let you run around the edge all day long,” Brees said. “Then it’s a chess match from there. We tried to run the ball inside, outside, throw it short down the field. We tried to keep them off balance but unfortunately today, it kind of worked the other way around.”

At 3-4 and two games out of first in the division, the Saints will need to pick up the pace in order to contend, fullback Mike Karney said.

“You can’t turn the ball over and you can’t mis-execute. Period,” he said “You’re going to get your butt beat, no matter who you’re playing, Carolina or anybody else you’re playing. We’ve got to find a way to not do that and start putting together some wins.”

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